The Impact of Early Center-Based Childcare Attendance on Child Development: Evidence From France

Lawrence M. Berger, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lidia Panico , Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Anne Solaz, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Isolating the causal impact of childcare on child outcomes is difficult because of the heterogeneity in the quality of care, and systematic selection into different arrangements. The French context is suited to explore this question as the majority of children attending center-based care are in high-quality, state-funded and state-controlled nurseries. We use a recent, nationally-representative cohort study to determine whether attendance to center-based care at 1 year has an impact on children’s language, motor, and behavior outcomes one year later. We apply an instrumental variables approach to harnesses exogenous variation in local availability of center-based care. We find that attending center-based care at 1 year is positively associated with language and motor skills a year later, and negatively associated with behavior. These effects vary across groups: children of less educated mothers appear to benefit most, as did, to some extent, first-born children and children of foreign-born mothers.

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 Presented in Session 233. Families, Law, and Public Policy